Authors: By BOB JOHNSON
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A federal judge listening to arguments on a new sentencing for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said Friday there is "no doubt" Siegelman bribed a former hospital executive.
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller said Siegelman's sentence would not be longer than the seven years and four months he originally received. The 66-year-old Siegelman appeared in good spirits as he entered the courthouse and declined to comment.
Siegelman and former HealthSouth chief Richard Scrushy were convicted in 2006. Prosecutors say they arranged $500,000 in contributions to the Democrat's campaign for a state lottery in exchange for the governor appointing Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board.
Siegelman, who served on term from 1999 to 2003, was originally sentenced to more than seven years in prison. He served about nine months before being released pending his appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to hear his case.
Scrushy recently finished his nearly five-year prison sentence in Houston.
Several character witnesses took the stand in Siegelman's behalf, including former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Siegelman served as Alabama's attorney general before he was governor and several of his former colleagues have filed court briefs urging that he not be sent back to jail.
Woods said it would serve no good purpose for Siegelman to be back in jail and that the public would be better off if he served community service.
Over the years, supporters have blasted Siegelman's prosecution, claiming it was driven by partisan politics. Backers have waged an aggressive Internet campaign to get Siegelman's conviction overturned, with some suggesting President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, should pardon him.